Invitation rescinded after pressure mounted from faithful Catholics
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WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Catholic diocese in New Jersey is canceling a talk offered by Fr. James Martin, S.J., best known for his attempts to normalize homosexuality.
The celebrity Jesuit had been scheduled to offer a Lenten reflection on February 15, at Our Lady of Lourdes parish in the diocese of Metuchen. The diocese announced Martin's speaking engagement this month in its newspaper, The Catholic Spirit. The communications director for the diocese of Metuchen, Erin Friedlander, confirmed with Church Militant on Friday that the parish "is no longer hosting the planned talk."
According to the inside source, the invitation had originated in the deanery, but was rescinded after the parish priest, Fr. Leonard Rusay, encountered backlash. According to the woman in the deanery, the source told Church Militant, "the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes said, 'I've gotten too many protests. I'm not going to do it this year.'"
"I don't want them to protest, so I am rescinding the invitation," the source continued, explaining that organizers then asked various parishes in the area to host Martin, which declined the offer.
"A catering hall has agreed to host," the source confirmed.
The woman who reported this to me, the woman who was talking about this is on the deanery — and she used such incendiary language about the people who had objected to Fr. James. She used words like "feared" and "threatened," and she made it sound like it was to be violent. ... I questioned her pretty closely ... because I didn't like her language, so I wanted to know for myself: Is there someone on my side threatening this guy, or threatening the church? Let's find out about that — and in fact, there was no basis for her to say that. She was just being provocative ... . To my knowledge there were no threats of violence; just protesting.
The parish had initially confirmed to Church Militant on Tuesday that Martin was still scheduled to speak in February.
Church Militant spoke with Friedlander, on January 18. She claimed to be unaware of the speaking engagement.
"I can look into it," she told Church Militant. "I don't see that James Martin coming to our diocese to speak on Jesus would be an issue, but let me look into it and see what I can find out."
Church Militant sent our FAQ on Fr. Martin to Friedlander and to Our Lady of Lourdes parish, listing the scandalous and anti-Catholic positions he publicly promotes. Members of New Jersey chapter of Church Militant's Resistance also sent multiple emails, calls and a written letter to the parish expressing concern over Martin's ideas. The talk was canceled shortly afterward.
The petition has garnered almost 10,000 signatures as of press time.
Despite protests, Martin promoted his book, Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter Into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity, last July at another N.J. parish, Church of the Sacred Heart. This event came only months after Cdl. Joseph Tobin hosted an LGBT pilgrimage at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark. Tobin was among the handful of prelates who endorsed Martin's book: "Fr. Martin's brave, prophetic and inspiring new book marks an essential step in inviting church leaders to minister with more compassion and in reminding LGBT Catholics that they are as much a part of our church as any other Catholic."
Martin is known for his attempts to normalize homosexuality. He has said that chastity is not required of homosexuals, that Catholics should "reverence" gay "marriage, that "transgender" children should be able to register for religious education under their preferred sex and that people who have left the gay lifestyle do not live an "integrated life."
The popular Jesuit also supports a dissident priest, Fr. Gregory Boyle, S.J., who publicly promotes gay "marriage" and women "priests." Martin has also claimed dissident Sr. Jeannine Gramick, a pro-gay nun who founded New Ways Ministry, should be canonized a saint. He also accused faithful Catholic critics of being "homophobic" and "close-minded."
This is not the first time Fr. Martin's speaking engagements have been canceled. Last October, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre rescinded the cleric's invitation to speak at its gala event in New York City, and within days the Catholic University of America also disinvited Martin from an alumni event at Theological College.
"Since the publication of his book, Building a Bridge, Theological College has experienced increasing negative feedback," according to a press release from the seminary in October. "The decision was made to withdraw the invitation extended to Father Martin."
The inside source told Church Militant that the Metuchen deanery is "not actually interested in hearing the other side because I suggested, especially in light of Fr. James' book, why don't we invite some of the militant Catholics, so we can hear what they have to say? And they were not in the least interested in doing that, but they were interested in mounting a counter-protest."